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Old Oct 6, 2007, 1:25 PM   #11
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I have to admit, HDR is something I don't really get. Often when people show their HDR images I'm not sure if it's being used to try and even out tones or as a stylized effect. This isn't meant as a criticism, it's just that I wonder if I understand the point of it or not.

For example, if the point is to try and capture a dynamic range that's more akin to what we see with the human eye, none of these examples seem to work because the colors get strange, the contrast gets unnatural and the photo then looks unrealistic. On your shot of the path in the woods the second last exposure looks like a very pleasing capture with nice colors and contrast but perhaps needed a bit of dodging in the shadow areas. Your HDR blend though looks more like a pastel colored painting. If this was the desired effect then there's nothing to criticize, it is a good looking image. The last two images you posted both have a nice, artistic look to them.

I hope you don't mind, but here are some example images from one of my rare HDR blends. I don't even know if this really qualifies as HDR or not as it may just be considered very extensive dodging and burning. Here are the three exposures I used, and I'm posting them at a larger size in case anyone wants to play with them:















I took these into Photoshop, manually aligned them on top of each other, and then used the paintbrush to manually mask in darker or lighter areas accordingly. Of course the boats complicated matters a bit, but only the sailboat in the center was all that tricky. After getting the tones the way I wanted them, I flattened, straightened, and cropped it:







For me, this is what HDR means. There was far too much contrast to properly capture in one exposure, and by blending the images this way I was able to bring the tones together while also getting it to look pretty much how it did to my eyes. Technically though, I didn't create an HDR file that can have it's exposure tweaked similar to a RAW file so I don't know if the image can really be considered HDR. Or, perhaps people generally perceive a difference between an HDR file and an HDR image. I'm curious to know what other people's thoughts are on this.
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Old Oct 6, 2007, 1:52 PM   #12
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You are absolutely right corpsy. The last shot of the pathway was done HDR but I put it through Photoshop and changed it quite a bit. Finally put it through Poster Edges for an artistic look rather than reality. HDR is any picture which has the ability to have detail in the shadows, mid tones, and highlights. I believe the best ones Ive seen dont look natural, but to me, even better than natural. Our eyes adjust quickly from shadows to highlights and its unusual to see a single photo capable of the same range. Your example is an excellent one showing the range. But if the range between pure black and pure white is extensive then you need more than just 3 shots. My shot of the path through the woods is an example of pure HDR. However, Im still learning the controls in Photomatic so I will be trying that again. I put your 3 shots through Photomatic. What do you think?
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Old Oct 6, 2007, 8:25 PM   #13
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This is the pathway shot after understanding the settings a bit better.
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Old Oct 7, 2007, 10:21 AM   #14
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I'm delighted to read the discussion in this thread, because almost all the HDR specimen shots I've seen so far have been dominated by overwhelmingly dramatic skies. They've been striking images, true enough. But usually they've seemed, to my eye, even further removed from what I'd have seen with the naked eye than an individual image, with the highlights not quite blown out, and the shadows rather too deep.

Corpsy's lastimageof the harbour mouth above provides exactly what I'd like from HDR if I could do it - it's got arealistically dramatic sky, but the darker foregroundhas plenty of detail.If anything, a bit brighter on the foreground would suit me, but then that apparent brightness probably wasn't there at the time.

Similarly, Bynx's shot of 04:31 GMT FriOct5th (pathHDR.jpg) looks more like something I'd have seen with my own eyes & remembered than did the last one posted, Path1_2_4_5_6A1.jpgwhich has deep shadows my eye might have penetrated.

I suspect it all hangs on a mixture of taste, art, and memory. I've occasionally had folk here modify my images to suit their taste. They've sometimes started from something like what I remembered to something that looked to me like a highly oversaturated postcard. However, you gentlemen have given me hope that I may one day be able to twiddle the shadows up and the clouds down in a way I'll like, in spite of only 8-bit colour.

Thanks!
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Old Oct 7, 2007, 12:13 PM   #15
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Alan when you get into HDR more, you will find you have a lot of control in how the picture will look. You can get into the highlights and shadows and everywhere in between to bring out or subdue whatever it is you want to achieve. Photomatix Pro is a really neat program for doing this. Corpsy has done an amazing job considering how he did it all in Photoshop. And he has nicely demonstrated that the final result is better than each of the 3 exposures making up the picture. HDR using Photomatix is a win win situation. You underexpose, average correct expose, and overexpose a scene. You can then put it through Photomatix and get variations to suit you. In the end you always have the average correct exposure to fall back on. Check out this site for a really good tutorial on HDR photography.
http://www.naturescapes.net/072006/rh0706_1.htm
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Old Oct 7, 2007, 12:34 PM   #16
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Bynx, thanks for your explanation of HDR. As far as your Photomatic treatment of the lighthouse scene, I have mixed feelings. For the most part I prefer the one that I created manually as I feel the colors and contrast look more natural and true to the scene, but I'm very impressed at how clean a job the software did considering the pictures were shot hand-held and the boats and water were all in motion. I tried automating the HDR in Photoshop and it ended up making the water and boats blurry. With some minor tweaking, like evening out the tones on the lighthouse, bringing down the contrast a bit and maybe desaturating the yellow in the sky, I think your version would be quite impressive. Thanks for the demonstration.

Alan, I'm glad we could inspire you! Let us know what software you have to work with and perhaps we could give you a few tips.
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Old Oct 19, 2007, 3:04 PM   #17
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Assembled from 5 shots.
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Old Oct 28, 2007, 2:29 AM   #18
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This is Toronto City Hall and was assembled with 7 shots.
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Old Oct 28, 2007, 7:56 PM   #19
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Old Oct 28, 2007, 11:21 PM   #20
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Ah for a wide angle lens. The building has a nice ceiling.. This was 6 shots.
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